Original Articles

Should Sasanian Iran be Included in Late Antiquity?

When Peter Brown published The World of Late Antiquity, AD 150-750 in 1971 he included the Sasanians. That seems to have been the first time that happened in English, although Franz Altheim and Ruth Stiehl had entitled their study of Sasanian taxation Finanzgeschichte der Spätantike in 1957. However the latter was only about Sasanian Iran and not a general treatment of finance in Late Antiquity that included the Sasanians.

The Romance of Artaban and Artašir in Agathangelos’ History

The Armenian History by Agathangelos written in the mid‐5th century and nar‐rating about
the conversion of Armenia to Christianity in the early fourth century was soon translated into Greek
and other languages: Arabic, Old Russian, and Georgian. There also exist shorter re¬cen¬sions
(known as The Life of St. Gregory) in Karshuni, Ethio‐pian, Coptic, Greek, Georgian, Latin, and
Arabic. The Greek version of the History is extant in nine manuscripts dating from the 8th‐12th cc.
Only one of them, kept in the Laurentian library of Florence, Plut. VII, cod. Gr. 25 (12th c.), contains
nine initial para‐graphs absent from the Armenian original and from the other recensions.

Sasanian Reflections in Armenian Sources

The deep impression of Iran upon all aspects of early mediaeval Armenia has long been recognized.
Although linguists may have taken the lead in tracing this influence, scholars in all disciplines,
particularly historians and theologians, have unearthed multiple parallels and connections between the
two cultures. The penetrating studies by Garsoïan and Russell over the past four decades have proved
to be particularly influential, to the extent that no scholar today would seriously contemplate studying
early mediaeval Armenia without acknowledging its Iranian heritage.1 Indeed such is the degree of
unanimity over the level of Iranian influence upon all aspects of Armenian society and culture that the
contention has begun to operate in the opposite direction. Armenian sources have been exploited to
shed light upon Iranian, and specifically Sasanian, history.

An Exceptional Gold Coin of Shapur I

Recently we have had a chance to see a unique gold coin of Shapur I. Unfortunately the
location of this coin today is unknown to us. At first sight, the coin looks like the usual issues of
Shapur I (particularly the iconography in obverse), but exploration of some details in reverse
give us cause to suppose that it was minted for a certain occasion.
Shapur I continued the regional policy of his predecessor, Artashir I, from the beginning of
his reign. A series of victories against the Roman Empire opened the way to conquer Armenia,
which was the main success of Sasanian Iran in the West. Shapur I represented his glorious
victories against Roman Empire in rock sculpture and took a new title, king of kings Iran and
non‐Iran, as a result of his successful policy.

Like Father, Like Daughter: Late Sasanian Imperial Ideology & the Rise of Bōrān to Power

The reign of Bōrān and, afterwards that of her sister Āzarmīgduxt, although short‐lived, were historically significant. No other woman ascended the Sasanian throne, in her own rights, before or after them. The significance is even greater in view of the social and cultural limitations placed on women in Sasanian Iran, as discussed in the studies presented by scholars such as Jamsheed K. Choksy, Albert De Jong, and Mansour Shaki. This paper investigates the factors that legitimized the rise of these women to the throne through the examination of the ideas of Iranian kingship in general and Sasanian imperial ideology in particular.

Historical Geography of Fars during the Sasanian Period

There are few studies in existence which explore the Sasanian historical geography. The pioneering work of Marquart on the historical geography of the Sasanian Empire in the book of Ps.- Moses of Chorene is one of the earliest studies of its kind. Later discoveries of numismatic and sigillographic finds, as well as publications on and editions of literary and material evidence, relevant to the historical geography and administrative organization of the Sasanian Empire did not change things dramatically, but did help to complete and in some cases correct early impressions. During the last decades R. Gyselen and Ph. Gignoux have significantly contributed to the field of Sasanian historical and administrative geography through their publications and scrutiny of the sigillographic, numismatic and written sources.

Spāhbed Bullae: The Barakat Collection

This article brings to light some ten Spāhbed bullae which are housed at the Barakat Gallery in London. Their provenance is unknown, but they are dominantly (seven) from the kust ī nēmrōz “Southeastern Quarter” of the Sasanian Empire. There is also a bulla from kust ī xwarōfrān “Southwestern Quarter,” another from the kust ī xwarāsān “Northeastern Quarter,” and a unique, mostly illegible and unpublished bulla among the collection as well. Before dealing with the Barakat collection it is important to provide a historiography of the study of the Spāhbed bullae and its significance for Sasanian history and civilization.

The State of Research on Sasanian Painting

Matteo Compareti, Venice, Italy

Despite very recent discoveries – which are, however mainly fortuitous ones – the archaeology of pre-Islamic Iran is still badly known. This is particularly true for the Sasanian period (224-651), a kind of “golden age” for Persian art and culture that is remembered in later Islamic sources as the apogee of the Persian Empire. It is a well-known fact that written sources are practically absent in pre-Islamic Iran if one excludes official inscriptions in Pahlavi on rock reliefs and the coinage. For this reason, the archaeological investigation should have an important role in the reconstruction of the Sasanian past.

Sasanian Law

Jany Janos, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary

The proper term for law is the Middle Persian dād although the meaning of dād is more complex than the Western concept of law. In fact, several texts attest to the dual meaning of dād as both law and religion, sometimes understood as a religious law, sometimes as a synonym of religion, sometimes as a secular law or the king’s command. It is only the context of the text which is helpful to decide which meaning was referred to.

In the Pahlawi Riwāyat Accompanying the Dādestān ī Dēnīg dād has the dual meaning of religion and law: ’when someone goes over from the (religious) law to which he belongs to another law he is margarzān, because he is deserting the Good Religion, and he is taking up this bad law’.